|On the couch with Kirstie Allsopp: What should you do if you want to marry but your partner doesn't?|
|Tuesday, 22 November 2011 15:44|
Kirstie Allsopp, 40, co-presenter of Location, Location, Location, lives with partner Ben Andersen in London. They have two sons Bay Atlas, five, and Oscar Hercules, two. Ben has two sons from his previous marriage.
Ben and Kirstie have been together for seven years, but have no plans to marry, although she's publicly said she'd like to.
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair advises on how she can best live with this situation...
Kirstie, you've made your desire to be married clear on more than one occasion. Indeed, during an interview in December 2008, your interviewer noticed a ring on your engagement finger. When she asked if this meant you were soon to marry, you replied: 'No, sadly not. 'I have a series of rings, all of which Ben has given me, that I wear on my engagement finger. And that's the deal — we are not engaged, but I get to wear rings on my engagement finger.'
You went on to say that you believe very much in the institution of marriage and that you hope you will one day be married to Ben, but that he's reluctant to marry again after such an unhappy porce. Despite his refusal to propose, you claim the two of you don't argue about this, because you've decided that Ben is the one who's in charge with regard to this aspect of your relationship.
That's one way to resolve this black-or-white issue — simply to let your partner have his way.
For you, that's perfectly fine, for several reasons. First, you don't need the legal safeguards that marriage confers as much as other might. You have your own career and you're wealthy in your own right, so should the two of you ever decide to part, you'd be at least financially as well off as Ben.
Second, you're clearly a self-confident inpidual who's not looking to marriage to boost your sense of self-worth. You've said, for example, that although Ben has many talents you don't have, you know it works the other way round, too.
Third, you have an enormous amount going for you already. You lead a busy and fulfilling life, you have a loving partner and delightful children, you know what you're good at and you know how to make money doing what you love to do.
This is a wonderful position to be in and, when anyone is this lucky, it's relatively easy to let your partner have it entirely his way on at least one issue.
However, not many people who are facing this same situation will have so much going for them. What's the best way forward for them?
First, it's important to be clear about exactly what it is you want. In particular, are you hoping to be married, or do you simply want to have the experience of being a bride (or groom)? This may seem an obvious distinction, but some people confuse these two aspects of marriage.
If you want the delight of holding an occasion in your honour, one where you're the centre of attention and during which you celebrate your relationship with friends and family, you don't need the additional legal baggage for that to happen. You could simply agree to invite your friends to celebrate, say, being together for five years, or some other 'anniversary'.
If, in addition, you want to wear a ring as a token of your devotion to your partner, as Kirstie does, there's no harm in that, either.
However, what if you actually feel you need the legal status that marriage confers on your relationship?
'Be clear about what it is you want. Are you hoping to be married, or do you simply want to have the experience of being a bride?' This could be important if, say, you've sacrificed your own career to accommodate your partner's ambitions, and/or to look after children.
Many people are under the misconception that if you live together, you automatically acquire the same rights as you'd have if you were married — in other words, that there's such a thing as a 'common law marriage'.
In fact, common law marriage hasn't existed in England and Wales since 1753. Even when you have a child with your partner, you still have fewer rights if you split up than you'd have if you were married.
If, however, you want your partner to propose because you believe this will somehow 'prove your worth', then you're likely to be disappointed.
However, if you believe you have a valid reason to marry, but your partner isn't keen, how do you go about persuading him or her?
It's important to start by taking note of a saying from the American South that 'you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'. If you complain, challenge and ceaselessly annoy your partner, you're unlikely to change their mind — in fact, you could even drive him or her away.
Instead, choose a time when you're both relatively relaxed and present your reasons calmly and factually.
If your partner still refuses to honour your request, yet you're still convinced that this is the partner for you, you'll need to do what you can to ensure security for you and any children, in case the two of you split up. It's never pleasant to think about unhappy possibilities but, in the longer term, you'll feel more secure and better if you do. Make sure you have both names on your tenancy agreement if you're renting your home, or that both your names are on the deeds if you own the property.
Make a will (everyone should do this, really), and consider drawing up a Living Together agreement.
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On the couch with Kirstie Allsopp: What should you do if you want to marry but your partner doesn't?
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
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